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Ironman 70.3 Lake Stevens - Triathlon1/2 Ironman

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Lake Stevens, Washington
United States
WTC (World Triathlon Corporation) (Ironman 70.3)
65F / 18C
Total Time = 5h 36m 15s
Overall Rank = 315/882
Age Group = M25-29
Age Group Rank = 36/76
Pre-race routine:

Went to the pre-race briefing and picked up my packet in Everett on Saturday. Dropped off my bike in transition later that day and was pleasantly surprised to find that I had one of the nicest transition spots available. It was the last short rack (6-8 bikes) near the bike/run out with a lot of open space around it and my spot was right on the end of the rack.

Spent the night before the race in Marysville about 10 minutes away from transition. This saved me from having to drive ~40 minutes on race morning before my 6:35am start time. Ate my usual pizza and got to sleep early. I woke up a lot more than usual during the night but this is the biggest race I have done so far so the nerves were a little more worked up than normal.
Event warmup:

Alarm went off at 4am and I was instantly wide awake. I had woken up at 3am and was just laying there waiting for the alarm for that last hour. Ate two whole wheat english muffins, one with soy sausage and cheese and one with honey. I also had an extra cranberry/orange muffin that was lying around. Packed up my stuff, wished the people I was staying with luck on their race, and I was over to transition by ~4:45.

The thermometer in my car read 51 degrees when I got to transition. It was very cold and very dark (note: bring a headlamp next time!). I got everything set up pretty quickly and then walked around the huge transition area a few times to get used to the layout. It was going to be a long run from the swim/bike in to my spot and I wanted to make sure I knew the most direct route.

I wandered down to the swim start at 6:00 to get my wetsuit on and watch the pros warm-up. By the time I was down near the water the announcer was trying to get everyone out of the water in preparation for the pro waves at 6:30 so I decided to forego the swim warm-up. 6:30 comes... nothing. The start was delayed by 10 minutes due to a layer of heavy fog on the water. Eventually the national anthem plays and they start announcing the pros... and they're off.
  • 38m 41s
  • 1931 meters
  • 02m / 100 meters

The fog that caused the swim delay had not really lifted at this point so sighting was going to be a beast. I was in the first wave after the pros and there was only a 3 minute gap between the two waves so we got shuffled down to the starting platform quite quickly. I jumped in to find that the water was about 15 degrees warmer than the air temp (it felt amazing!).

There were about 90 people in my wave and we were all huddled together in a mass, treading water next to the start platform. Everyone knew this was going to be a brutal start but there wasn't really anything you could do about it. Luckily, they didn't give us much time to think about it as the starting horn sounded about 30 seconds after the last guy jumped into the water.

It was just as brutal as anticipated. Every stroke brought my hand down on someones head/back/arm or found my feet hitting who knows what. The fog prevented anyone from seeing the sighting buoys easily for the first few hundred meters so you were dependent either on the guide-line that was ~6 feet under the water or following the person in front of you and hoping they were going in the right direction. I swung out wide to the right to stay away from the guideline and had a pretty peaceful trip out to the first turn. I got off track a few times but it was fairly easy to sneak a peek over at the pack on my left to make sure I wasn't wildly off course.

It is amazing that even after 900m or so the turns still get incredibly congested. The two turns were very close to each other and at each one there was a mass of people slowly working their way around the buoy. I tried to latch onto someones feet coming off of the second turn but that didn't last very long.

Coming back in I was intent on staying near the buoy line to make sure I took the most direct course possible (I realllly wanted to make my swim goal time). This was a pretty terrible idea as by this point the faster swimmers from the M30-34, M35-39, and later waves were starting to catch up and they were all following the line. I held my course for the most part but it was much harder to hold good form with people coming up on you frequently. At one point on the return trip I ran face first into one of the big orange sighting buoys and actually backtracked to swim around it on the correct side to make sure I didn't get DQ'd or something silly like that.

Right near the end I decided to follow someone for the rest of the way into the boat ramp and when I finally looked up to see how close we were I noticed that this guy was swimming way off to the right away from the finish. I corrected and came in a bit above my goal time but fairly happy with the swim.
What would you do differently?:

Sight every once in a while even when there is a buoy line. Running into buoys doesn't make you faster.
Transition 1
  • 02m 51s

There was a pretty long run from the swim out to my transition area which helped get my legs going again after the swim. Due to the cold I had bought some arm warmers to wear on the bike. I had practiced putting them on a bunch of times but it was much harder when my arms were wet.

I go to put my bike helmet on and it doesn't want to go on my head... I look at it and nothing is obviously wrong with it so I try two more times and it will just not fit on my head! Somehow it had gotten tightened down overnight and it took me a few seconds to figure out what the issue was.

My sunglasses also fogged up completely as soon as I put them on. I had to take them off again and run with them until I was actually on the bike.
What would you do differently?:

Make sure my helmet fits when I get to transition in the morning.
  • 3h 06m 9s
  • 56.6 miles
  • 18.24 mile/hr

I have ridden this course 8 or 9 times in training so I knew exactly what to expect and how hard I could push myself while still having enough energy for the run. People who have done the race before had also made a big point about taking it easy on the first loop of the bike course. My pre-race plan even included taking it fairly easy on the first loop of the course. However, I threw all of this out of the window as soon as I got on the bike and threw up a 1 loop split that is 3 minutes faster than anything I have done in training (even on my 1 loop only rides). I was a few minutes ahead of my bike time goal and I was getting pretty excited.

Besides being fast the first loop also exposed me to what a bad bike crash actually looks like. The first fast descent is 15 miles or so into the course. I am coming down it at about 40mph and see a woman rush out into the road and start motioning me to move over to the left side of the road. I slow down a bit and notice that there are two bikes laying in the road (or maybe just 1 bike split into two pieces) and a guy sitting in the ditch. Supposedly someone hit a dog around this portion of the course... I am not sure if this was the same accident but it looked really bad.

The first loop caught up to me in a big way as soon as I hit the flats going into the second loop. My right calf was on the verge of cramping and I just wasn't able to hit the speeds that I normally can sustain on that portion of the course. More and more people started passing me and I started changing my time goals for the day into more of a survival strategy. I tried to push through the pain for about 5 miles and then decided to give shot bloks a try to see if the caffeine and extra electrolytes would help. It did and I was able to get back up to a somewhat normal tempo. The calf cramp didn't completely go away but it stayed dormant enough that I was able to ignore it.

Going into the last 15 miles of the ride I decided that shot bloks worked so well earlier that I should eat the other half of the pack that I had brought with me. I NEVER do this in training as the extra sugar tends to give me a headache or mess me up in other ways. Go figure, that is exactly what it did in the race also. 5-10 minutes after eating them I started having bad stomach issues. I was burping up more than just air and my stomach felt like it was twice normal size... not good! Maintaining aero position became a constant struggle. I switched to just drinking water (no more gatorade/carb-pro) and it slowly settled down over the rest of the ride.
What would you do differently?:

I would have liked to do a lot better on the bike. I would also like to blame the cramps and stomach issues for my time but I think the root cause of it all is pushing it too hard on the first loop. My splits were 1:27 and 1:39... that difference is far too large.
Transition 2
  • 01m 44s

Dismounted, turned the corner into transition, and almost fell down. My bike cleats were really slippery running to my transition area.

Shoe change, grab watch/hat/food, and I was gone.
What would you do differently?:

Running in my bike shoes was a small slowdown here. However, the run was so long that the time probably would have been close to this anyway.
  • 1h 46m 50s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 08m 10s  min/mile

My toes were numb coming out of transition but that isn't unusual for me coming off of the bike. Within 10 minutes I had all of the feeling in my feet back. Overall, my legs felt pretty good at the start considering the problems I had on the bike. I think the reduced speed in the last portion due the stomach issues & cramps helped my legs recover a bit.

I started passing people right off the bat which was a very welcome change from getting passed a lot on the bike. However, 4 miles in I noticed that I was starting to get a blister on the insole of my left foot. This has only happened once before and it was in the previous half marathon that I had done in June... It doesn't happen during any other run length, just half marathons. I knew there wasn't anything I could do about it so I just kept thinking how sweet it would look if my shoe was all bloody when I finished and ran through it.

I skipped the first aid station entirely but from then on decided that I would do a quick walk through them to get some water/gatorade down and then continue on. This helped a ton as they were spaced just right.

Going out on the out and back I got a "good job" from Linsey Corbin as she passed me which was a nice pick me up. I also got to see Michellie Jones on her final stretch of the run. It was amazing to see how fast the pros are going out there. Tesia also found me at this point and ran alongside me for a while (yeah, it is technically against the rules). It was a big help having someone to talk to to take my mind off of what I was doing.

At the halfway point I checked my watch to see that I was running a 7:47 pace. This was faster than the 8:00 pace I had anticipated but I was still feeling relatively good so I decided to keep it up. By this point my left foot had gone completely numb for some reason. This was good in that I couldn't feel the blister anymore but it also felt like I was running with a shoebox attached to my leg. My form still seemed like it was ok so I went with it.

The hills in the last 6 miles were a real test. My quad wasn't cramping but it wasn't very excited about what it was having to do and it let me know about it. The walks in the aid stations went from a quick race-walk just long enough to down a bit of liquid to a slow jaunt starting 5-10 feet before the aid station. However, I was always able to get back up to speed as soon as I started running again.

Coming into the finish was great. There was music going, hundreds of people standing around, and there was nobody in my age group near me that I had to worry about. I gave a weak little arm raise and a smile as I was crossing the line.
What would you do differently?:

Figure out why I get blisters in half marathons and fix it.
Post race
Warm down:

Drank a lot of water/gatorade and waited for my friend Chris to finish who I knew was pretty close behind me. Met Tesia, grabbed a bunch of pizza and cookies and went down to sit by the water to relax for a bit.

Stuck around for the awards ceremony. Clearwater slots rolled wayyy down in my age group. The last slot went to a guy that finished 25 minutes faster than me. Next year!

Usually after a race I will not want to think about signing up for the next big thing for a while. However, within a few hours of finishing I had already decided that the half iron distance was fun enough to warrant signing up for the Black Diamond Half Iron later this year and then graduating to Ironman Wisconsin in 2010.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

The bike. I don't know what my time would have been if I didn't blow up after the first loop but it still wouldn't have been stellar. I am new to cycling but I am a bit disappointed in my bike splits relative to the other disciplines. Something to work on during the off-season!

Last updated: 2009-06-21 12:00 AM
00:38:41 | 1931 meters | 02m / 100meters
Age Group: 41/76
Overall: 435/882
Performance: Average
Suit: Full Xterra
Course: Counter-clockwise very skinny rectangle. Basically an out-and-back.
Start type: Deep Water Plus: Waves
Water temp: 69F / 21C Current: Low
200M Perf. Average Remainder: Average
Breathing: Good Drafting: Below average
Waves: Navigation: Below average
Rounding: Good
Time: 02:51
Performance: Below average
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed:
03:06:09 | 56.6 miles | 18.24 mile/hr
Age Group: 53/76
Overall: 449/882
Performance: Below average
Wind: Little
Course: Fairly hilly double loop with a ~5 mile out-and-back to get to the loop portion.
Road: Rough Dry Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Average
Race pace: Too hard Drinks: Just right
Time: 01:44
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike Average
Racking bike Average
Shoe and helmet removal Average
01:46:50 | 13.1 miles | 08m 10s  min/mile
Age Group: 32/76
Overall: 230/882
Performance: Average
Course: 2 loops of a figure-8 style course. One part of the figure-8 is a loop and the other is an out-and-back. Hills on both portions.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Ok
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 4

2009-08-17 7:39 PM

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Subject: Ironman 70.3 Lake Stevens

2009-09-06 9:50 PM
in reply to: #2354465

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Bothell, Washington
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Lake Stevens
After Lake Stevens, Black Diamond will be a nice surprise on the time clock. It is an easier course but really not as well supported. Thanks for the race report!
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